Czech President Vaclav Klaus has taken up the issue of the state of Czech psychiatric hospitals in his reply to British author J.K. Rowling. The author of the popular Harry Potter children's books had sent a letter to Mr Klaus and other Czech politicians in mid-July urging them to stop the use of caged beds in Czech psychiatric wards and institutions to restrain people with mental disabilities. Upon receipt of the letter, President Klaus summoned experts in the field to Prague Castle to discuss the state of the mental health care system. "The problem that you mentioned is, of course, very serious, and is the subject of permanent professional study within our country... I cannot but disagree with the impression that in Czech health-care institutions there occurs regular abuse of the aforementioned beds, or even the abuse of mentally disabled children," Mr Klaus wrote.
The outgoing Cabinet has confirmed the dismissal of the Czech's European Commissioner, Pavel Telicka. Mr Telicka is to be replaced in Brussels by Vladimir Spidla, who resigned as prime minister last month. Wednesday's action overturns a Cabinet decision made five months ago, which guaranteed Mr Telicka a mandate until 2006. With newly appointed Prime Minister Stanislav Gross expecting to have a new government formed early next week, this week's session was most probably the last for the old Cabinet. Vladimir Spidla and his cabinet resigned shortly after the ruling coalition parties' poor showing in the elections to the European Parliament held in June. However, Mr Spidla says his Cabinet has met a significant part of its policy aims and has nothing to be ashamed of. In Brussels, Mr Spidla is mainly interested in the justice, enlargement or transport portfolios. The next executive European Commission, which takes office in November, will be put together by new Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso of Portugal.
A policeman who covered up for a crime committed by his colleagues has received a six-month suspended sentence from the court in the eastern town of Frydek-Mistek. Roman Byrtus was found guilty on Tuesday of trying to prevent an investigation into the theft of World War II medals by two fellow officers.
A young man who was killed when his car crashed into a bus in north Moravia at the weekend had been drinking and taking drugs, police in Ostrava said on Tuesday. Traces of alcohol, marijuana and the Czech amphetamine pervitine were found in the 23-year-old driver's blood. One passenger in the car died of her injuries while three others suffered serious head injuries.
The leaders of the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Freedom Union have said they are extremely close to reaching a coalition
agreement, one day after Social Democrat Stanislav Gross was named prime
minister. The three parties have committed themselves to supporting
families with children, education and faster economic growth.
Talks on the composition of the new cabinet are expected to continue until at least the weekend; though Mr Gross had earlier said some ministers would remain in their posts, Freedom Union chairman Pavel Nemec told reporters on Tuesday it had not even been decided which parties would get which ministries.
All three parties were in the previous coalition led by Vladimir Spidla, who stepped down a month ago after the Social Democrats did badly in elections to the European Parliament.
T-Mobile has taken a complaint about the Czech Republic's other biggest mobile phone operator, Eurotel, to the European Commission, the company announced on Tuesday. T-Mobile says Eurotel's planned launch of a fast internet system called CDMA contravenes European Union regulations on competition, because Eurotel has an exclusive contract to provide the service in this country.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed the acting leader of the Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross the country's new Prime Minister. Mr. Gross heads an old-new Cabinet of three coalition parties, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the right wing Freedom Union. The new Cabinet will have a thin one-vote majority in the Lower House, and the new Prime Minister has obtained a pledge in writing from each of the 101 coalition deputies that he can rely on them to back the new administration. Later today, the new Prime Minister is to meet with the leaders of the two smaller parties of the governing coalition to debate government policy and personnel matters. The thirty-four year old Stanislav Gross is the youngest Prime Minister in the country's history. He has replaced his party colleague Vladimir Spidla who resigned several weeks ago, after narrowly surviving a vote of no-confidence as party chairman.
The police have arrested two youths who attacked and seriously injured a man who objected to their yelling Nazi slogans in public. The thirty three year old man was eating at a restaurant when two youths, sitting close to him, started yelling Nazi slogans and doing the Nazi salute. When he asked them to stop the youths both attacked him, punching him in the face and repeatedly kicking him when he fell to the ground. The man is in intensive care, having sustained severe head injuries. The youths have been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and supporting a movement which aims to restrict human rights and freedoms.